Mussina pitched a complete game and walked none last night but continued to receive meager run support, as the Orioles fell to the Seattle Mariners, 4-3, before 43,447, their sixth straight loss at Camden Yards.
The Orioles have lost eight of their past nine games there and have won only three of their past 14 at home. Their latest loss -- on the heels of a 7-3 West Coast trip -- put them six games behind Kansas City and Seattle in the wild-card race.
"These are the games we should have won, especially at home," manager Phil Regan said. "We haven't done that. If we had, then we're in this race."
The Orioles scored an eighth-inning run on Cal Ripken's two-out
run-scoring double to right after Bobby Bonilla reached second on an error. Harold Baines grounded out to second to end the inning.
Ripken -- who doubled twice last night -- played in his 2,126th consecutive game, five shy of breaking Lou Gehrig's record, but he couldn't prevent the Orioles from sliding farther behind in the wild-card race. The Orioles are six games back, with six teams ahead of them.
"We've proven every time this year, it's not going to happen," Mussina said. "It's so frustrating. Any time we look like we're going to make a run at it, it just fizzles."
Mussina deals with the frustration by focusing on individual accomplishments.
"I just come out to the park and enjoy myself. I feel great when I pitch. I love to pitch," Mussina said. "It's gotten to the point I only concentrate on how I feel and how well I do."
Mussina could pitch himself into Cy Young Award contention by finishing with a 20-win season.
Boston's Tim Wakefield (14-3, 2.51) has struggled for a few starts, and Seattle's Randy Johnson (13-2, 2.68) missed his start Thursday with a sore shoulder and will not throw for three or four days.
Mussina entered the game tied with Atlanta's Greg Maddux for the major-league lead with 15 wins.
Mussina (15-8) didn't get another last night, allowing four runs on nine hits, including two home runs, striking out five and walking none.
Tim Belcher (9-9) was the winning pitcher. Norm Charlton earned his fourth save.
Mussina gave up homers to the nearly homerless, little Joey Cora and catcher Dan Wilson. "I get the big guys out, and the other guys hit me," Mussina said.
Cora's first-inning homer came on a full-count pitch and was his third of the year.
Mussina, after retiring the Mariners in order in the second, gave up another run in the third.
Vince Coleman hit a two-out double to right. Then Cora got to Mussina again, hitting a low liner to center that Rochester call-up Jarvis Brown appeared to catch. But Brown's spikes got caught in the grass and he dropped the ball. Seattle led 2-0.
The Orioles cut it to 2-1 in the fourth, but Wilson hit Mussina's 2-1 pitch into the left-field stands an inning later. The bases-empty shot was the team-leading 21st homer allowed by Mussina this season.
The Orioles cut it to 3-2 in the bottom of the fifth, but the Mariners answered again in the seventh on Mike Blowers' leadoff double, Wilson's single to right and Felix Fermin's groundout to first.
The Orioles, who grounded into double plays in three consecutive innings, have scored 12 runs in Mussina's past seven starts.
"You can't hit in this league," Mussina said, referring to pitchers. "I can't do anything about it. They pay me to pitch. Today I actually got three runs. I should have been jumping up and down."
The main reason the Orioles scored three runs was because of tentative defense by center fielder Ken Griffey.
Griffey didn't look good at the plate, either. Entering the game 0-
for-10 lifetime off Mussina, Griffey didn't hit a ball out of the infield in four plate appearances.
He does have an excuse.
Griffey, a five-time Gold Glove winner, broke his wrist May 26 against the Orioles in Seattle making a catch by hurtling himself into the Kingdome's center-field wall.
Last night Griffey was faced with a similar play on Brady Anderson's fourth-inning, off-the-wall shot, mistimed his jump and failed to come up with the ball. Anderson slid headfirst into third with a triple and scored on Rafael Palmeiro's one-out single to center.
But Bonilla ended the inning with a 1-6-3 double-play grounder.
The Orioles scored their second run in the fifth thanks to Griffey, who unsuccessfully dived headfirst to try to catch Ripken's leadoff liner. Ripken stood up with his 29th double, third-best in the American League, and came around on singles by Baines and Chris Hoiles.
Opponent: Seattle Mariners
Site: Oriole Park at Camden Yards
TV/Radio: Ch. 13/WBAL (1090 AM)
Starters: Mariners' Chris Bosio (9-6, 4.93) vs. Orioles' Kevin Brown (6-8, 4.02)
Tickets: 2,400 remain